Donald Trump’s Chilling Effect on Foreign Policy

BY HELEN LI

Those who have attended Donald Trump’s campaign rallies or listened to him during television debates and interviews know that the Republican presidential candidate (and current frontrunner) has repeatedly vowed to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

 

Trump outlines this immigration policy on his campaign website; he argues that Mexican leaders have taken advantage of their northern neighbor by “[exporting] the crime and poverty in their own country,” thereby increasing American crime and unemployment rates. Believing that the Mexican government government is responsible for this problem, he declares that “they[Mexican government] must help pay to clean it up” by paying for the construction of a 2,000 mile long wall along the border.

 

It is also well-known that Trump has not shied away from commenting on individuals of Latino descent within the United States. During his candidacy announcement, he remarked that  “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

 

Donald Trump’s claims have chilled America’s relationships with allies. Recently, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto voiced in an interview with El Universal that Trump’s words were “damaging” U.S.-Mexico relations. Nieto pointed out Trump’s lack of knowledge: “Whoever insults or speaks badly of Mexico doesn’t know the country, whoever speaks badly of Mexicans doesn’t know Mexicans.” Party leaders and former Mexican president Vicente Fox have drawn parallels between Trump and Hitler. Additionally, legislators in Mexico City have passed a “point of agreement” federal government ban on an entry by Trump. Although the local legislatures technically cannot enforce this proposal, the ban serves largely as a symbolic front against the Republican presidential frontrunner.

 

Nieto softens Mexico’s stance by saying that he will respect the U.S. election process and intends to cooperate with whoever is chosen by U.S. voters. However, one can imagine the tensions that may arise between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partner if Trump is elected. Mexico is currently the United States’ third largest trading partner, only after China and Canada; nearly a billion dollars worth of goods legally cross the border each day. Perhaps in the interests of economic and other cooperative areas, America should not ignore the opinions of its southern neighbor.

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